Photo Credit – Life of Pix
The struggle is real.
I would easily bet that most people reading this can relate to the dilemma of obsessive compulsive social media checking; otherwise known as, addiction to social media.
It looks a little something like this:
Checking your phone on autopilot countless times a day to mindlessly scroll through pictures, comments and statuses without any gauge of how much time you spend doing so per “social break”, or per day.
I know what it looks like, because I myself am also an addict (in recovery).
Now, I also know and understand the many positive benefits of using social media, like connecting with friends from around the world and the access to information, talent, opportunities etc. And I am extremely aware of how beneficial social media is for businesses and anyone trying to spread their message, products and services beyond their immediate circle. The internet and social media are incredibly powerful tools that can be used in incredibly positive ways.
But there’s also the flip side.
The other way consists of posting to or checking social media pages due to boredom and a need for attention. This consequently results in mindless entertainment and time wasting; where you’re not learning anything, growing, promoting or benefiting in anyway.
Thing is, the lines often get blurry.
For example, many people will argue that social media helps to communicate messages and raise awareness. And I do agree. But for the most part, this raising awareness leads to no action whatsoever. Great, we’re all aware – but now what? How has being aware caused any real change? Awareness without action is just an ego play. Beware of the ego and the boost it gets from these social traps.
This addiction, both physical and habitual, is detrimental to our relationships, our careers, our goals, our responsibilities and even our safety. And it comes down to one reason. Instead of being present and focused on the task at hand, or the person we’re supposed to be engaging with, we have our heads buried in our devices.
It’s also detrimental to our mental health. Our ability to focus and dig into a subject without any distractions, is perishing very (very) quickly. We are addicted not only to the information on social media, but to the adrenaline rush that comes with every notification.
“Notification numbers appear on the app icon to draw you in, then on the top or bottom menu to draw you in further. They play the same psychological trick on you that clickbait headlines do — they tell you that there’s information you really want to know, but they don’t tell you enough to satisfy…The biggest tool in the social media addition toolbox is algorithmic filtering. Sites like Facebook, Google+ and, soon, Twitter, tweak their algorithms, then monitor the response of users to see if those tweaks kept them on the site longer or increased their engagement. We’re all lab rats in a giant, global experiment.”, Computerworld.
Overuse of social media can also lead to self-esteem issues, because you’re being subjected to countless people who are usually using their online profiles to put on a façade – and who you just can’t help but compare yourself to. There’s a fine line between inspiration and self-esteem abuse.
Social media networks are designed in a way to make you addicted. That’s the truth of it. Greg Hochmuth, one of the first software engineers for Instagram explains that “Once people come in, then the network effect kicks in and there’s an overload of content. People click around. There’s always another hashtag to click on,…Then it takes on its own life, like an organism, and people can become obsessive.” The New York Times
One of the biggest problems that I’ve experienced with my social addiction is having no real gauge of how much time I spend (waste) on social media.
As we all know, the first step to overcoming any addiction, is first admitting that you have a problem. So if you’re wondering if you’re considered an addict, let me say this: Anything you do several times a day that doesn’t add to your life is a problem – and anything you NEED to do several times a day is an addiction. Sure, there are varying degrees to any addiction; but don’t fool yourself, if you just can’t help but check your social pages several times a day – you ARE addicted. Of course there are those who share, those who only check, and those who do both.
To kick your social media addiction, you gotta have a plan. Here’s an excellent infographic on “How to beat Facebook Addiction” that I would highly recommend.
You can also try some of these tactics below:
- Decide on how many times/day you allow yourself to check your social pages – ie. 2 times a day.
- Be specific as to what times of day you can check – ie. morning and evening.
- Allot a specific amount of time for checking social pages – ie. no more than 10 minutes at a time. (Ta-dah! And now you finally have a gauge of how much time you’re spending social browsing).
- Disable your alerts – to reduce temptations.
- Take some weekends off. I’m not saying every weekend has to be a social media free weekend, but maybe choose one weekend a month for a detox.
- Commit to not checking your social pages during certain activities – ie while eating, walking, spending time with family.
- Have a backup plan when you’re tempted to grab your device – like go for a walk, or close your eyes and meditate. Stimulate yourself with something that isn’t on your device.
- When you feel like posting something ask yourself what your motives are, what the benefit is – and decide if the post is really worth making.
“Before you post a status update or a photo, question your motive: Are you just trying to prove that you’re having a good time? Is this the fourteenth picture of your baby that you’ve posted this week? If the answer is yes, try chatting with a friend or texting the picture to your mom. You could also jot down your thoughts in a notebook, or if you’re somewhere lovely, sketch the spot. “I call this intra-gramming…When you really process a place by staring at it, drawing it, and reflecting on it, you can create a long-term memory. Posting a photo has the opposite effect: You stop thinking about your experience and start contemplating other people’s responses to it.” Real Simple
Social media can be great, but I promise you that real life isn’t happening on your phone. Go out and run, play, dance, sing – do something worthwhile.
Get real with yourself and realize the real lies you’re telling yourself about social media.
Peace, love and (no more) addiction to social media,